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'Legend' Stoner ends MotoGP career on the podium

12 November 2012

Casey Stoner concluded a stunning MotoGP career with third place in Sunday's wet/dry Valencia season finale.

The 27-year-old Australian announced back in May that he would retire at the end of this season, regardless of whether he claimed a third world title.

Ankle injuries in August, for which Stoner required surgery and missed three races, ended his 2012 chances. However the Repsol Honda star returned to claim a dream sixth successive home win at Phillip Island.

Poor weather at Valencia worked against his hopes of a 39th and final MotoGP win, but Stoner - who had qualified third in the dry - rose from 16th after a pit stop to swap bikes and overtook Alvaro Bautista for third place on the penultimate lap.

As he took the chequered flag for the final time, the Repsol Honda team gathered on the pit wall with a pit board saying “Going Fishing” - a message Stoner also wore on his leathers.

“Considering everything that happened today, we're very happy with a podium,” said Stoner, who was the highest placed rider to pit during the actual race.

“We used up all our weather luck at Phillip Island I think. This weekend the weather has been terrible and I've been riding tense in the damp and wet.

“I just didn't want to take any risks of crashing and damaging my ankle again so I was very cautious and this isn't how I like to ride. Even with the choice of going with the wets, not the slick tyres at the beginning of the race, I took the easy option which really isn't me.

“When I saw the slicks had a big advantage, we came in and changed bikes and went back out and pushed as hard as we could, without taking unnecessary risks. In the end we were able to chase down Alvaro and take the last spot on the podium in our last race.

“I'm not an emotional person, but I was just trying to soak everything in on the slowdown lap.

“It's a little strange not to be involved with testing for next year now, but it's also a big weight off my shoulders. I can take a bit of time to enjoy life and it's something that I'm really looking forward to.

“My team are like my second family, we've been through a lot of ups and downs together and it's going to be difficult not to see them every week though.

“I'm sorry for them and for everyone who has supported me for so long but this is the way it is and it's time to say goodbye. Thank you to all the people who have supported us over the years and all our sponsors, and to everyone in the Repsol Honda Team".

Stoner became Ducati's only world champion at his first attempt in 2007 and left the factory with 23 wins at the end of 2010.

To date, only one other Ducati rider has won a race since 2007 - a wet/dry victory for Loris Capirossi - but Stoner's talent only became truly appreciated when his replacement, seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, took just three podiums in 35 starts.

By contrast, Stoner clinched his second title in his first season with the factory Honda team, matching his 2007 tally of ten wins from a record-equalling 16 podiums. Stoner scored a further five wins this season, to finish third in the world championship.

On completion of his final MotoGP race, Stoner was named as an official 'MotoGP Legend'.

He becomes the 20th person to receive the honour, alongside: Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Freddie Spencer, John Surtees and Carlo Ubbiali.

Stoner has been linked with a switch to V8 Supercars, but insists he has no fixed plans for the future.


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